A Niagara police officer told a court during cross-examination on Wednesday that he knew the constable he shot three years ago to be an “aggressive person” with a “violent past.”
On the third day of Const. Nathan Parker’s judge-only trial for assault with a weapon, Det. Sgt. Shane Donavan confirmed to the accused’s counsel that he made such claims to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) during an interview following a blue-on-blue shooting in Pelham, Ont.
“I spoke about, I didn’t claim I had the knowledge at that time, but yes,” Donovan told counsel Joseph Markson.
Donovan went on to corroborate that he had never met Parker before the day of the shooting but heard from other officers that he allegedly had an association with bodybuilding and steroids.
In addition, he admitted to referring to Parker as a “bully” in the SIU interview and thought he was not “approachable” and “shuts down people right away.”
“You told them these things to help the SIU to conclude and believe that the police Const. Nathan Parker was the aggressor towards you?” Markson suggested.
Donovan replied “Yes.”
Parker was shot by Donavan in broad daylight on Nov. 29, 2018, when an altercation between the two broke out amid a collision investigation just west of Niagara Falls on Roland Road and Effingham Street.
On Tuesday, during day two of the trial, the detective sergeant told the court he was heading up the investigation and that Parker was a part of a crew that was suppose close off a road to traffic near a crash scene.
However, Donovan said after refuelling and picking up food, he returned to the closed roadway and saw traffic passing through a barricade.
In a move to backup the claims, the Crown’s Jeremy Tatum had dispatch calls played back to the judge from both officers on the day in question.
In one recording, Donovan can be heard asking about Parker’s whereabouts, while the other featured the constable requesting that he be replaced by another officer.
Donovan said Parker became “loud” and aggressive” when he asked the constable “politely” not to leave the scene again.
He alleges after telling Parker he was talking to a sergeant, the accused pushed Donovan with both hands and came at him throwing a “haymaker” punch.
Allegedly Parker continued with the assault and took out his baton, and that’s when Donovan pulled his gun. He told the court he fired several shots when it appeared Parker was reaching for his own firearm.
“My belief was that my life was in danger. He’s already attacked me, hit me three or four times,” Donovan told the court.
During Wednesday’s session, the court heard more dispatch recordings including Donovan’s call for an ambulance after the shooting.
“Can you confirm it’s blue-on-blue shots fired?” The dispatcher said.
“Confirmed. He did pull a gun on me, but I shot him,” Donovan responded.
Not long after, the detective would tell the court he approached a bystander in the hopes they had video of what had just transpired.
“I could not believe what had happened and I expected no one else would believe it,” Donovan told the court.
The SIU report would later reveal that Parker was hit in the leg, shoulder and stomach. He was rushed to hospital in serious condition.
Donovan would be charged by Ontario’s police watchdog with attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon. The Crown would later drop the charges, saying there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.
During his recollection of events for the Crown on Tuesday, Donovan said Parker told him he was not at his assignment because he had to use a washroom the day of the shooting.
The detective sergeant told the court the only way for an officer to get in touch with him when he was away from his vehicle was through his mobile phone and that he had provided it to Parker’s superior.
On Wednesday, Counsel suggested that Donovan could have confirmed with Parker, upon arrival, his number considering the collision investigation would take about four to five hours.
“It could have been,” Donovan said.
“But from his body language, I could tell he was not happy to be there. He didn’t answer me at all. So and that’s what I know of Const. Parker, so I left it at that and got things started.”
Markson then suggested the detective sergeant had so much in his “head against him” that he wouldn’t give his number to Parker and was “unhappy” with the constable being assigned to the barricade.
Donovan disagreed with counsel on both points.
Day four of the trial will resume on Thursday with the cross-examining of Donovan by the Toronto-based Markson and Kate Robertson.
Const. Nathan Parker has plead not guilty to the assault.
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